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Bristol introduces singing bins in attempt to curb littering

A new campaign to reduce the amount of litter on Bristol’s streets launched last week, featuring eye-catching bins and an art installation aimed at encouraging residents and visitors to dispose of their litter responsibly.

Two million pieces of litter are dropped every day in the UK, wreaking havoc on the natural environment and habitats. Bristol Waste collects around 3,700 tonnes of litter every year: the same weight as two SS Great Britains or 300 double decker buses. Picking up litter costs the city around £6million a year.

With the overarching message that Bristol is binning – and therefore winning – the campaign, which is being run by environmental charity Hubbub, in partnership with Bristol Waste and Bristol City Council, aims to instil a sense of fun and pride in keeping streets clean and litter-free.

Over 50 colourful bins are being installed across the city centre in key locations near takeaway outlets, night life venues and parks, as well stadiums, transport hubs, in and around markets and the harbour. The new design bins will feature fun takes on song lyrics, gaming motifs and playful puns, and there will be glow in the dark bins and bins that both cheer people on and play jungle music when they are opened.

New recycling bins for plastic bottles, cans and glass will also be installed for the first time alongside Bristol’s existing general waste bins and coffee cup recycling bins to make it as easy as possible for people to recycle when out and about. Colourful voting bins for general litter and ‘ballot bins’ for cigarette butts will be popping up to get people to vote with their litter on hot topics such as ‘Surf vs Skate’, ‘Drum & Bass vs Techno’ or ‘Casa Amor vs Main Villa’. Bristolians will also have the opportunity to win prizes using the LitterLotto app.

To galvanise the public into action, an art installation of a giant wave made of litter has been created by eco-artist Wren Miller, with support from Bristol Council, Bristol Waste and Hargreaves Lansdown. The wave – on display in Bristol Harbour – is made with 90kg of waste, equivalent to the volume of litter dropped on Baldwin Street on just one busy Friday night.

Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees, who unveiled the sculpture last week, said:

“We all have a part to play in making sure that Bristol is clean and green and can be enjoyed by everyone.

“The Wave sculpture shows the extent of the problem in Bristol, and why we need to take action. Not only does litter look unsightly it can be harmful to both people and animals – especially if it ends up becoming ocean pollution.

“We are delighted to be installing new recycling bins around the city centre, which will also help us to improve our recycling rates across the city and achieve our ambitious goals.

We hope this campaign will capture the attention of the people of Bristol and encourage them to think twice about dropping litter after a night out. Working together we can make Bristol a city we can all be proud of.”

Students from the University of Bristol will carry out a litter pick and there will be pop-up two-minute litter picks around the city in the months to come.  Council enforcement officers will be looking out to reward residents doing their bit to reduce litter with on-the-spot prizes such as vouchers.

Natasha Gammell, creative partner at Hubbub said: 

“Bristol is known for leading the way on environmental issues, but litter continues to be a problem, particularly at night as a result of people enjoying the nightlife. We hope these hilarious bins that play catchy tunes and glow in the dark, will turn some heads and encourage people to use them and not leave their litter lying around the city. With this campaign, we can show that Bristol is winning by binning!”

Image: Chris Bahn